I have daily contact with a variety of doctors, from family practice all the way to cardiologists. Often the conversation finds itself drifting towards the subject of fibromyalgia. I watch and listen to how each doctor speaks about their patients with fibro, to see their perception, and I get to see through their eyes for just a moment.
Often their tone changes when they talk about fibros. It can get irritated, seeming almost as if they are upset or derisive about fibro patients. I have heard certain doctors say derogatory things about fibro patients, but this is by far the minority. It strikes me the same way that restaurant waiters probably talk about certain types of diners, which is more shop talk and generic stereotypes than genuine distaste.
The other thing I notice about doctors is their lifestyle. I know very many who sleep perhaps four hours per night. They are up at 4:30am, or even throughout the night if they are on call, some seeing 30 patients a day. They have Cheerios for breakfast while they scan patient files, and assemble the rest of their meals through a constant onslaught of bagel and coffee laden pharmaceutical reps. They spend their residency years forgoing all of their personal needs like family and comfort and food to help others, and that sort of sticks with them.
When I talk to them about other solutions for fibromyalgia, places to refer patients, the reaction is always the same, and this is where I get that sort of Christmas cheer feel. Almost universally, their tone changes to one of relief. It’s not that sort of relief that comes from being able to unladen work on others, but that unique sort of relief that comes from a place of great frustration, the frustration and angst of giving up one’s personal comfort to help others and having an entire group of people who they cannot adequetly help. Once they find something for their patients their faces light up like a kid on Christmas morning. Doctors do get frustrated by fibro patients, but it’s not because of who fibro patients are, but only because they want more tools to help.